Jan 30 2014

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Teaching Our Kids to Live Generously

teaching generosity

Today at work I hosted a group of middle school students who celebrated Catholic Schools Week by giving back to the community. They whipped through the project I had planned for them, So I took a break and told them about the non-profit that I fund raise for, the population we serve, and some of their stories.

Since my non-profits serves those with cystic fibrosis, we serve a predominantly young population. Teens are especially great champions for cystic fibrosis, because it is likely that they know someone who is affected by this genetic disease. I hope that these young people could sense just how much our association does for people with CF, and how very important our mission is.

Now, our staff *could* have completed the tasks that these kids did. (It would have taken longer, though). The kids *could* have just spent two more hours in math or English class.

But the point of charity, of philanthropy, of generosity, is to step out beyond the ordinary in order to be extraordinary.

Generous children grow up to be generous adults. Generous children and generous adults change the world.

I’ve told you all about my friend Bridger before. Bridger is 9 years old. For three years now he has given up Christmas presents to raise money for Charity: Water. (you can catch a glimpse of him in this video)

Kids like Bridger make a big difference in our world.

How can we teach kids to live generously?

The answer is obvious, if not a little uncomfortable. Kids model what they see.

Is there a cause that is close to your heart? Do you talk about it as a family? Do you actively participate in fundraisers, and attend awareness events for your cause of choice?

In past generations, talking about money was taboo. There have been some very generous people in our past, but they are shrouded in a veil of anonymity.

While this is admirable, anonymity keeps generosity stagnant. Generosity is much more effective when it is contagious.

If our children see us actively supporting causes, they will want to do the same. . .either supporting the causes that you do, or, even better, choosing their own!

Generosity is the antidote for childhood selfishness.

Observe a very young child. Note the natural generosity. A baby is more than happy to share a pacifier, bottle, slimy toy or whatever is in his hands (provided his needs have been met).

This is the generosity that we should encourage. I always received such gifts with an enthusiastic “Thank you!”

When I caught my older children being generous with their time or treasures, I would pause, and let them know that what they did was honorable and acknowledged that it was also probably difficult.

I’ve taught the children that we serve others first, even if it means that we might run out of ice cream before we get to our own bowl.

These are all simple lessons in philanthropy.

I encourage you to find a group that you can support as a family with your time and treasures. Make giving into family time.

Giving of your time is time never wasted.

Chime in! How have you modeled generosity for your children? What lessons have you learned along the way? Leave a comment and let me know! I’d love to hear from you!




About the author


I'm a Lutheran pastor's wife and mom to six kids, including toddler twin girls. My life is sometimes normal, and sometimes crazy; but through it all, I know that I am blessed! Some people say that I have my hands full, I prefer to call it living life with both hands full, and I love it!

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  1. Lisa from The Meaning

    I really like what you have said here, Pam – service and generosity are truly great things for children to learn and make part of their lives. And those things don’t have to be huge gestures – they can be just like what you talked about it. But those little foundations go a long way to fostering an attitude of service and kindness later.
    Lisa recently posted..Things I Never Thought I Would Do (Revisited)My Profile

  2. Alli

    Beautiful post Pam. I’m with you all the way. Teaching our children to be generous is a basic building block for the foundation that will help them live rich lives. Not financial riches, but the kind that really matter. They comes from knowing you’re doing wonderful things for people who need it. The kind that comes with knowing that your actions, no matter how small, can make a positive impact in this world. I wish more people saw the world this way.
    Alli recently posted..52 Reads Week 3: The Fault in Our Stars by John GreenMy Profile

    1. Dakotapam

      Yes, I want our family to make an impact, no matter how small! Have a great Monday!
      Dakotapam recently posted..Cheerios Family Breakfast ProjectMy Profile

  3. Lisa Mallis

    Caught vs. Taught! Thanks for reminding us that children do learn more from what they “catch” us doing, then what we “tell” them to do! When we model the behavior we want to see, we will start to see more of it! Great post!

    1. Dakotapam

      Thanks, Lisa! I do think there is a lot more value to them observing desirable behaviors in their parents! Thanks for stopping by! Have a great Monday!
      Dakotapam recently posted..Review: HP Instant InkMy Profile

  4. Ismail N

    Thank you for this wonderful post. It’s a gentle reminder to parents and teachers to take the time to teach our kids about sharing with, and helping others. Kids are amazing – they can be very generous if we let them choose their passion.

  5. Fundraising Strategies

    What a lovely post! True that kids who have been seeing their parents being generous follow the model they’ve been given and even more. “Monkey see, monkey do” as they say. So let’s teach our kids generosity by making generosity a way of life in our homes. Generosity will definitely breed generosity.

    Fundraising Strategies

  6. Richard Santos

    Thank you for sharing this post. This is an ongoing conversation with my wife: lead by example. This is something we always here in business settings, but it also applies in our homes. Your kids learn more by what you do than what you say. So if you’re generous, there is high probability that they’ll follow your footsteps.

  7. GMA USA

    Thanks so much for sharing this post!

  8. Darrenn Scott

    Hey, great share…

    I loved this post. As a parent I understand that it is very important to inculcate good habits in your child. These children are the foundation of the society so it is very necessary to teach our kids to live generously. Generous people are capable of bringing great changes in the world.

    I am surely gonna share this informative post with my friends as well.

    Thanks for sharing and keep sharing more…….

  9. ZANE Australia

    “Generous children and generous adults change the world.” – If more people could understand this simple concept.

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